Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! I feel more inspired to blog than I have in a long time. Some combination of the new year and a horse that’s beginning to do interesting and exciting things is pretty motivating, I guess.

I closed out 2021 feeling good despite Candy’s death, Woody’s death, a back injury, and struggling to enjoy a new job that was very much not what I had in mind when I earned a degree in finance. While I can’t change the past, I can adjust my present mindset and strive for future improvement. I focused on the things I really like about my job, exercised more regularly, meditated often, and allowed myself to dream about what Madigan’s future looked like.

Christmas Eve trail ride, December 2021

Gina began to slow down over the summer. She turns 25 this year and is sound and in good health, but she’s a little stiffer and a little creakier than she used to be. I decided not to hunt much, if at all, this season. Gina will probably be comfortable going out with third field, but her first field days are behind her. She is still my go-to trail horse and doesn’t hesitate to get after the geldings when she thinks they deserve it.

An innocent face on a wily and devious old horse.

Moe turns 27 in May and continues to enjoy retirement. He is woolly and willful and shamelessly mugs for treats at every opportunity. He’s sound and healthy and still whinnies when he hears me hooking up the horse trailer. I’m so glad I’m able to give him the retirement home he deserves. (Well, he’d probably prefer a retirement home without a rambunctious youngster pestering him.)

Madigan is the real reason for this post. Part of the reason I didn’t blog much last year is because I felt I didn’t have anything interesting to write.

I rode Gina for half an hour. She was a little stiff at the walk but her trot felt as springy as ever!

Moe keeps leaning over the fence to eat grass from the yard. I really need to fix the hotwire.

Madigan cantered at baby school and didn’t look like he’d fall down!

However, over the last couple of months, the gears in Madigan’s head started turning. He filled out a little and gained some control over his mile-long legs. His trot and canter are balanced and confident. The trot to canter transition is so naturally uphill it’s unreal. I think I truly understand the appeal of purpose-bred dressage horses: when nature is working with you instead of against you, things like pirouettes and piaffes don’t seem completely impossible.

Of course, Madigan isn’t even close to doing those things. He’s 3.5 years old and his twice-weekly training rides focus on foundational stuff like maintaining rhythm and relaxation. He’s beginning to learn about lateral movement via leg yield and turn on the forehand. It’s really fun to watch him learn and improve every week!

Conquering ground poles with his trainer.

He’s a joy for me to ride, even though I often feel like I’m struggling to remember how to really ride. Obviously I remember how to stay on, how to post, how to steer, how to stop and go. I struggle to make my body remember how to feel. How it feels when my legs and hands are quiet or when my body is centered or when my reins are even or when my seat bones are connected.

Madigan and I are still adjusting to one another, which I think is normal and expected! He takes care of me as well as a young horse can and I take care of him as much as I’m capable. We will eventually work well as a team. It will just take time and practice. With that in mind, I’m swapping one of his training rides for a weekly lesson.

We have an appointment with a saddle fitter this weekend. I’m optimistic she can make one of my four saddles work. (Although if she can’t, I imagine my favorite Sommer dressage saddle at my former employer is still on consignment, and I know it can be adjusted appropriately.) When the saddle is squared away, we’ll get lessons underway, and hopefully have a fun and successful 2022!

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

8 thoughts on “Happy New Year!”

  1. I’m so excited for your and Madigan’s story to really get going! Glad Moe and Gina are both doing well too. There’s something special about spending their older years with them.

  2. I have been so impressed watching Madigan grow up and learn where all his feet are and how to canter in a circle without falling down. I’m excited to see more of his progress!

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